Cheer

This little bottle perked me up on a recent trip to Walmart.  Don’t we all need to be reminded of rainbows and cheer whilst navigating the congested aisles of the W?

Anyway, the colorful bottle prompted me to daydream about buying happiness in a bottle because, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve kind of sulked into 2012.  A funk, if you will.

There were two days last week when I optimistically donned my paint clothes in the morning, hoping to accomplish a little something in the home studio through the course of the day.  Nothing.  I think by the end of day two I was crying, “I just want to paint!”  Real tears.

So I have to say that this last weekend was like gulping down a full bottle of Cheer–wait!  But this wasn’t “HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED.”  This gulp put a spring in my step–a mommy and daddy only weekend.  AND we went to my new favorite restaurant where they remembered us–isn’t that a good feeling–and the chef offered to make us our favorite dish…that wasn’t on the menu (Alan & Jason, you guys rock!).  The day couldn’t have been better.

Cheer.

What is cheering you today?

First Baptist | Huntsville, AL

We had just arrived in Huntsville, Alabama, for a photo session with Erin Cobb.  I saw it piercing the sky above buildings and trees, some kind of ominous castle spire, as I pulled into the hotel parking lot.  From my vantage point, I couldn’t decipher the cross on top or any building attached to it.  That left only one thing to do.  ”C’mon, kids, let’s go exploring.”

I turned the car onto Governors Drive, discovered mosaic and steeple, and felt that rush of excitement that only a building like this can summon in me.  Quickened heartbeat, manic speech, wide eyes–the whole shebang.

Oh, so nice to meet you, First Baptist Church of Huntsville, Alabama.  I immediately emailed Erin to let her know that I had found an alternate site for the kids photos, and then I kept circling the building and block until my kids begged me to stop.

The next morning I stood with Erin in front of the building, swearing my undying love, when she leaned toward me and said, “They call it the ‘Eggbeater Jesus.’”

Now that you mention it, yeah, I can see that.  But eggbeater or not, this massive mosaic impresses with over 14 million tiny tiles, all hand or tweezer set.  From top to bottom, the figure of Jesus stands 43 feet tall.  The First Baptist Church website details more about the symbolism of this mosaic.

And when you have an “Eggbeater Jesus,” you must also have a “God Rocket.”  That imposing tower I saw over the trees is the 229-foot steeple covered in a zinc alloy–pretty fitting in Space City.  Within this steeple is a 48 bell carillon.  (source: First Baptist Church)

I was so curious about the sanctuary, that after our photos, I had to ring the office to see if they would let us in to check it out.   A church office worker kindly showed us around, and when I asked her what a Southern town like Huntsville thinks about the design of the church she said, “People call it all kinds of things.”

“Like Eggbeater Jesus!?” my 8-year-old son proclaimed.  Oh, my.

She thankfully ignored his comment and led us down a hall lined with paintings of the previous church buildings, all of them more traditional than the last.  I asked her again, “This church is such a departure from these–were the church members at the time not opposed to such a modern structure.”  She shrugged, “No–we’re in space city, and there were so many rocket scientists in the congregation then that they thought it was great.”  

She finally led me into the sanctuary.  It was beautiful, with two walls of stained glass that didn’t disappoint; in fact, I think I gasped.  You can take a virtual tour of the sanctuary.

[photo: First Baptist Church]

I was so grateful for the chance to peek inside and the tour.

The mosaic mural designed by the Gordon Smith of Fort Worth, Texas, took 7 years to complete–from 1966-1973.

Making the trip Huntsville was definitely worth it for my beautiful Erin Cobb photographs–but I would have made the trip just for this church, also.  I am a sucker for everything about it–and the fact that it reminds me of shopping at Sanger Harris as a girl, well, that is just a nice bonus of nostalgia.

[photo: Erin Cobb]

I’ll think of you, First Baptist, every time I look at the fun photos of my children.

Fifteen

There have been two proposals amongst our friends on the deck of our mountain cottage.  We attended one of the weddings this last weekend that resulted from one such proposal.  Not that we had anything to do with the love match there at all, but I still feel a little cupidy that the cottage will be remembered fondly and described for years to come in response to the question, “How did he propose?”  One of the objectives from the start with the cottage was that it would serve as a happy place, a memories place–so this kind of story spoons up a heaping bowl of warm and fuzzy for me.

Our friends’ wedding dripped with sweetness and sincerity.  How could we not reflect on our own proposal story and nuptials many years ago after watching bride and groom promise glorious love and affection forevermore amen?

A college romance turned proposal mid-air turned young love wedding–all only start the story a-gallop.  At first the story unravels quickly like a timeline.  Dates, places, people.  Then we fill in the gaps with feelings, experience, moments–adding the breadth and depth.  At the wheel on the drive home Saturday night, my husband said something irresistible like, “I like how weddings refresh our own marriage and remind us of our wedding day.”  I shared how I found myself alone briefly before the ceremony in the dressing room crying at myself in the mirror, thinking of my father who died three years before.  I’m kind of a downer like that.

And, then, before we knew it, fifteen years have passed since my brother walked me down the aisle.  While towels and sheets–wedding gifts–have long frayed, there remain other gifts that still serve as tokens of that day.  They are gifts that have moved from duplex to apartments to three different houses.  Some still glisten good as new while others are caked with wax or are numbered few from butterfingers, plates shattered on the kitchen floor.

You don’t have to tell me that it is hopelessly sentimental and sappy that I wish this mirror, a wedding gift, could reflect choice scenes from the last 15 years–you know, those details that fill the timeline big and fat.  Sunkissed from beach vacations, good news like scholarships and school programs, successful new recipes, moving into our first house, gardening together, pregnancy tests, new jobs.  With a bowl of hot popcorn in hand, I would sit back and enjoy the show.  Oh my goodness, I would laugh at the hair and the clothes and cheer when we finally sold that embarrassing Bermuda Green Isuzu Amigo.  And I would glance knowingly to my side, squeeze his hand, and cry at the babies lost and the cancer fought.  A lot happens in 15 years, and I’ve learned that it isn’t what I’ve always expected.  Because that crystal jar, not crystal ball, merely decorates the time and space of our marriage.  For now we are hoping and praying that the glorious love and affection continues forevermore to infinity and beyond amen.

Tink’s Boudoir

From Peter Pan by James M. Barrie, Chapter 7

But there was one recess in the wall, no larger than a bird-cage, which was the private apartment of Tinker Bell.  It could be shut off from the rest of the house by a tiny curtain, which Tink, who was most fastidious, always kept drawn when dressing or undressing.  No woman, however large, could have had a more exquisite boudoir and bed-chamber combined.  The couch, as she always called it, was a genuine Queen Mab, with club legs; and she varied the bedspreads according to what fruit-blossom was in season.  Her mirror was a Puss-in-Boots, of which there are now only three, unchipped, known to fairy dealers; the wash stand was Pie-crust and reversible, the chest of drawers an authentic Charming the Sixth, and the carpet and rugs the best (the early) period of Margery and Robin.  There was a chandelier from Tiddlywinks for the look of the thing, but of course she lit the residence herself.  Tink was very contemptuous of the rest of the house, as indeed was perhaps inevitable, and her chamber, though beautiful, looked rather conceited, having the appearance of a nose permanently turned up.

While I hate to admit that I’ve never read Peter Pan, I will, to tell you that I am reading it now to my children for their literature class.  Every word, delicious morsels, in this paragraph charm with fairy delight.  I mean, “unchipped, known to fairy dealers” and “there was a chandelier from Tiddlywinks for the look of the thing,” so utterly adorable.  I had to share, and this drawing my daughter did of her upcoming room redo illustrates perfectly.  (Sadly, this drawing is way more fabulous than what I’ve dreamed up for her room.  She gets it, and even has the vision for the two blue slipcovered stools that will accompany her tea table at the foot of the bed.)

Trashy Magazines, 50s Style

I was more than a little titillated when I stumbled upon a box of dusty 1950s s*mut magazines for women at Tobacco Barn in Asheville–but titillated for different reasons.

These are a treasure trove of cultural gems–a time capsule, a look at taboo sexuality in a suppressed decade of womanhood, a thick slice of retro graphic design, a study in the evolution of language and marketing ploys, and the underbelly of the 1950s good girl.  I had no idea these existed in the decade when my grandmother was diapering babies.  But after purchasing this stack of naughty zines, I eagerly spread them out in front of an elderly lady (who will remain nameless in case she is still embarrassed by the risque admission), asking her if she knew about these in the 50s.  She did, indeed, and smuggled one in her room, which resulted in a slap in the face when found by the man in her life.

Before you even flip through the pages, the titles tempt deliciously on the cover.  And the stories inside, trust me, you read a few lines and, forget it, before you know it a half hour has passed while you fell deep into the misfortunes of some good girl gone bad.

But just when you smile with smugness to yourself that you would never make the same mistakes as the girl in the story, you find out you are really just a good girl loser in features such as “Too Fat to Date–Soda dates are dreamy, but they can give you a hangover–teen fat!

The article reads, “What boy dates a fat girl?  Looking around you’ll see that the popular girl isn’t always a raving beauty, but almost always is slim enough to look attractive in her clothes…If girls like Sally are slighted, hurt or insulted, they take their insults deep to their hearts.  Instead of fighting back or returning insult for insult, they go home and raid the icebox or go to the corner drug store for a fudge sundae (with whipped cream and nuts, please).”

Even the ads do their part to cut the sweet 1950s girl down to size.  Who needs self esteem anyway?

“FRECKLES…Mar Your Appearance”

“Even your prettiest dress doesn’t do anything for you if you haven’t the right bustline.”

And this one is my favorite:

“DEVELOP your CHESTLINE measurements without changing your contour.  WHY BE self conscious about your small, undersized, unattractive, underdeveloped chestline?  Now at last you can have a larger chestline, enjoy everything that goes with a well developed larger chestline.  Be more attractive, youthful–enjoy the new attention that accompanies a larger chestline.  You will never know how attractive you can be until you have tried the Model Beauty DEVELOPER to increase your chestline measurements!”

I’m SO GLAD you threw in “undersized, unattractive, underdeveloped” because I  didn’t understand just how hideous and disgusting a “small” chestline was.  And if I don’t go throw myself off the nearest bridge because of the utter grotesqueness of me and my small, undersized, unattractive, underdeveloped yoohoos, you better believe I am sending in my $3.98 and eagerly awaiting my Model Beauty Developer to arrive in plain wrapper via mail.

But not all the ads were image destroyers–nope, some were just downright sweet and adorable like this one from Armour:

“She says ‘M-m-m’…she means ‘meat’.”

Is that what she means?  I was so off.

Are these magazines not just a hoot?!  They are like fuel to my creative fire.  More rich snippets to come…

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